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MEDIA RELEASE - September 13, 2011 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner addresses WA

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner addresses WA

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda will be delivering a public address about justice reinvestment in WA over a breakfast at the Atrium Theatrette on 19 September 2011.

Commissioner Gooda said justice reinvestment could radically reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system by reorientating the system to early intervention, diversion and community support instead of putting non-serious offenders in prison.

“We must act now before we lose another generation to the criminal justice system,” Mr Gooda said.

“I urge governments around Australia to support justice reinvestment through further research on its implementation in Australia, as well as investment in mapping offending to identify areas of particular need.”

Deaths in Custody Watch Committee Deputy Chair Marc Newhouse agreed with Mr. Gooda.

“It’s time for justice reinvestment to be seriously considered in this state,” he said.

“As well as the AHRC Social Justice Report in 2009, three reports over the last two years from bi-partisan state and federal parliamentary committees have recommended adoption of justice reinvestment as a way of addressing the appalling incarceration rates of Aboriginal people.”

However, the current state government continued to refuse to give justice reinvestment any serious comment or consideration. 

Mr. Newhouse said “We have representatives from the ALP and the Greens Party attending Mr. Gooda’s address, but so far no WA Government Ministers have replied to attend,” he said.

Mr. Newhouse said prominent members of Aboriginal and community organisations, the judiciary, lawyers, trade unions, churches, students, academics, government departments, human rights and business were also attending the event.

Spokesperson for the Institute for Restorative Justice and Penal Reform, Dr. Brian Steels said the community needed to start thinking about where their tax dollars were being invested.

“Indigenous incarceration rates have reached crisis point in this state which means the current system of endlessly feeding money into prisons is not working, so something else needs to be done, within the community and by the community,” he said.

The Deaths in Custody Watch Committee has completed an Amnesty International funded justice reinvestment consultation project which highlighted support for justice reinvestment across a range of agencies and among Aboriginal families in the local government areas of Swan and Stirling where high incarceration and recidivism rates occurs.

Further comment: For Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda, contact Julie Nehme on 0419 258 597 or Marc Newhouse (Deputy Chair), 0415 074 602, newbone@bigpond.com

For Media wishing to attend, please book on www.trybooking.com/UPE   

9.30am – 10am has been set aside for media interviews.